4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Go to Heli

Heli: First place in the “Uh-oh, this can’t be good” promo photo contest.
Heli: First place in the “Uh-oh, this can’t be good” promo photo contest.
Movie

Heli *****

thumbnail

From its bold opening long take – one of the most audaciously disconcerting and seductively executed lead-ins in many a moon — director Amat Escalante sends viewers hurtling downward on a topsy-turvy journey through his hellish depiction of Mexico’s war on drugs. Same familiar terrain, different cartel, you ask? Guess again. Escalante is fighting the good fight, and this is far from a hoodlum recruitment film. It's very much, "Do the crime, do the time." Heli (Armando Espitia) works in a Mexican automobile factory. He’s the kind of cocky kid capable of buying his girlfriend a cuddly pup and then, when called upon, wantonly pumping two rounds into a pit bull. But he's not your typical Fordian archetype; when his sister falls into the hands of volatile drug lords, there will be no search through a savage, corrupt world. It's not for the faint of heart, but then, brutal honesty seldom is.

Find showtimes

“You’ll get to know God in the land of the damned,” mutters one of the vast array of scumbags on tap in Amat Escalante’s shocking crime drama Heli, opening Friday exclusively at the Media Arts Center’s Digital Gym. It’s as good a line as any to characterize the dark shade of noir the film revels in showing us.

Heli (Armando Espitia) works in a Mexican automobile factory. He’s the kind of cocky kid capable of buying his girlfriend a cuddly pup and then, when called upon, pumping two rounds into a pit bull. (It’s normally difficult for me to endorse any film in which the death of an animal is part of the evening’s entertainment. After three viewings, suffice it to say that, unless the shooting was digitized, I don’t think the pit bull lived to see the wrap party.) Nor is Heli your typical Fordian archetype; when his sister turns up missing at the hands of volatile drug lords, there will be no search through this savage world where corruption takes on many personalities.

From its bold opening long take — one of the most disconcerting and seductively executed lead-ins in many a moon — Escalante sends viewers hurtling downward on a topsy-turvy journey through his hellish depiction of Mexico’s war on drugs. Same familiar terrain, different cartel, you ask? Guess again. Escalante is fighting the good fight.

Those who fault movies for glamorizing criminal behavior will be glad to learn that Heli is far from a hoodlum recruitment film. It’s not for the faint of heart (brutal honesty seldom is), and some will find the film’s graphic “do the crime, do the time” tack difficult to brave.

Not content to just say “no,” Escalante reasons that if one is to ply children with drugs and sell them into a life of prostitution, what better punishment than a cricket bat to the spine or, in the case of extreme offenders, a genitalia flambé? None of this is made any more tolerable by Escalante’s placement of characters in the frame. The presence of children seated feet away from the retributory acts, clicking at video-game controllers, too numb to distinguish between onscreen and offscreen violence, quietly hammers home the point.

Escalante took home this year’s Best Director prize at the Cannes Film Festival, but the tough subject matter has prevented the bigger chains in town from gobbling it up. This is where the Digital Gym proves indispensable. When the film screened at this year’s Latino Film Festival, I promised Media Arts Center director Ethan Van Thillo my full support were they to book the film into the Gym. Here it is. All that’s needed to make it work is your support. Go to Heli.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Ocean warms up, Mexican coral trees bloom along the 94

African Daisy – the perfect freeway flower
Heli: First place in the “Uh-oh, this can’t be good” promo photo contest.
Heli: First place in the “Uh-oh, this can’t be good” promo photo contest.
Movie

Heli *****

thumbnail

From its bold opening long take – one of the most audaciously disconcerting and seductively executed lead-ins in many a moon — director Amat Escalante sends viewers hurtling downward on a topsy-turvy journey through his hellish depiction of Mexico’s war on drugs. Same familiar terrain, different cartel, you ask? Guess again. Escalante is fighting the good fight, and this is far from a hoodlum recruitment film. It's very much, "Do the crime, do the time." Heli (Armando Espitia) works in a Mexican automobile factory. He’s the kind of cocky kid capable of buying his girlfriend a cuddly pup and then, when called upon, wantonly pumping two rounds into a pit bull. But he's not your typical Fordian archetype; when his sister falls into the hands of volatile drug lords, there will be no search through a savage, corrupt world. It's not for the faint of heart, but then, brutal honesty seldom is.

Find showtimes

“You’ll get to know God in the land of the damned,” mutters one of the vast array of scumbags on tap in Amat Escalante’s shocking crime drama Heli, opening Friday exclusively at the Media Arts Center’s Digital Gym. It’s as good a line as any to characterize the dark shade of noir the film revels in showing us.

Heli (Armando Espitia) works in a Mexican automobile factory. He’s the kind of cocky kid capable of buying his girlfriend a cuddly pup and then, when called upon, pumping two rounds into a pit bull. (It’s normally difficult for me to endorse any film in which the death of an animal is part of the evening’s entertainment. After three viewings, suffice it to say that, unless the shooting was digitized, I don’t think the pit bull lived to see the wrap party.) Nor is Heli your typical Fordian archetype; when his sister turns up missing at the hands of volatile drug lords, there will be no search through this savage world where corruption takes on many personalities.

From its bold opening long take — one of the most disconcerting and seductively executed lead-ins in many a moon — Escalante sends viewers hurtling downward on a topsy-turvy journey through his hellish depiction of Mexico’s war on drugs. Same familiar terrain, different cartel, you ask? Guess again. Escalante is fighting the good fight.

Those who fault movies for glamorizing criminal behavior will be glad to learn that Heli is far from a hoodlum recruitment film. It’s not for the faint of heart (brutal honesty seldom is), and some will find the film’s graphic “do the crime, do the time” tack difficult to brave.

Not content to just say “no,” Escalante reasons that if one is to ply children with drugs and sell them into a life of prostitution, what better punishment than a cricket bat to the spine or, in the case of extreme offenders, a genitalia flambé? None of this is made any more tolerable by Escalante’s placement of characters in the frame. The presence of children seated feet away from the retributory acts, clicking at video-game controllers, too numb to distinguish between onscreen and offscreen violence, quietly hammers home the point.

Escalante took home this year’s Best Director prize at the Cannes Film Festival, but the tough subject matter has prevented the bigger chains in town from gobbling it up. This is where the Digital Gym proves indispensable. When the film screened at this year’s Latino Film Festival, I promised Media Arts Center director Ethan Van Thillo my full support were they to book the film into the Gym. Here it is. All that’s needed to make it work is your support. Go to Heli.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Cinema Under the Stars Presents Laura, Del Mar Gem Faire, Leonard Patton: A Broadway Cabaret

Events March 4-March 7, 2021
Next Article

Parking tickets return to places like Normal Heights

"I had a neighbor threaten me"
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close